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Body Diagram Hypertension is one of the most costly chronic conditions, second only to cancers Interested in sharing this information with your employer?

Hypertension and Your Eyes

The eyes and body are linked in so many ways. When we don't see well, we don't feel well. We feel eyestrain and fatigue that can lead to headaches and even time away from work.

At the same time, when we don't feel well, we might not see well, since many systemic diseases and medications taken for them can impact the health of our eyes and how well we see.

Consider the connection between high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, and the eyes. This is a condition that can impact many partsof the body:

  • Arteries
  • Heart
  • Brain and
  • Kidneys

How? Keep in mind that the walls of your arteries are made from muscle. Just as a muscle grows larger from the continual pressure of exercise, high blood pressure make the inner lining of arteries grow thick, as well as stiff. Over time, fats entering the bloodstream become stuck, blocking blood flow to the heart, kidneys, brain, arms and legs. This can lead to blood clots, and ultimately a heart attack or stroke.

However, did you know that high blood pressure can also affect your eye health? Hypertension can also damage vessels that supply blood to the retina and create leakage in the eye. Without proper treatment, this can potentially lead to:

  • Bleeding in the eye
  • Blurred vision
  • Optic nerve damage
  • Blindness

It may help to think of the eye as a camera, with the retina serving as the film, and the optic nerve sending messages to the brain. When leakage happens, it's like to trying to take a picture with soggy film, leading to a blurred image.

Early detection of hypertension is possible through an eye exam, since the doctor can see signs of this leakage at the back of the eye.

Glaucoma perspective

Glaucoma 101

A separate issue that can also affect the health of your eyes, hypertension of the eye itself, can damage the optic nerve, leading to glaucoma. When glaucoma is untreated, people start to have trouble seeing objects off to the sides of their field of vision. This can worsen over time until they potentially lose their sight completely.

A thorough eye exam through your vision benefit can help detect hypertension of the eye or glaucoma early, to make the most of your vision and slow the progression of the disease.

Only half of the 4 million Americans with glaucoma know they have it

What to Look For

There are several health and lifestyle factors that could increase the chance of developing glaucoma, which you should talk about with your eyecare professional:

  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Migraine headaches
  • Obesity
  • Smoking or alcohol use
  • History of stress or anxiety
  • Age 40+

Women also have a greater chance of developing hypertension of the eye, especially after menopause, while men may have a higher risk for eye damage caused by glaucoma.

Only 13% off those with Diabetes and 5% of those without it know diabetes can lead to hypertension

The Diabetes Connection and Eyewear

Unfortunately, many people with diabetes don't realize that hypertension can actually develop as a side effect of the disease.

Plus, diabetes can cause light sensitivity, as can certain medications used to treat diabetes and hypertension/glaucoma.

Because of this, many eye doctors recommend that patients with diabetes or hypertension wear Transitions® lenses. These lenses are as clear as regular lenses indoors and at night, but become sunglass dark outdoors, minimizing glare to alleviate eyestrain, fatigue and discomfort caused by light sensitivity. They also protect your eyes from 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays, which can lead to the development of eye diseases in both healthy and diabetic eyes.

Be smart – if you have or are at risk for hypertension or diabetes, talk to both your primary care doctor and eyecare professional about recommended steps to protect your eye and overall health, including proper vision care and vision wear through your vision benefit. Remember that diabetes can be detected through an eye exam.

For more information, visit HealthySightWorkingForyou.com.

Woman wearing transitions lenses

Quick Tips for Overall Health

Maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle, to manage cholesterol and blood pressure.

Visit your primary care doctor to find out whether you have high blood pressure, and discuss any other risk factors for developing glaucoma.

Make sure you receive regular, thorough eye exams to check for any conditions that could damage your sight, such as hypertension of the eye or diabetes.

Talk to your eyecare professional about UV-blocking and glare-minimizing eyewear, such as Transitions lenses, to protect healthy sight.